What is Exercise Treadmill Testing

Exercise Treadmill TestingAn exercise treadmill test or stress test, helps your doctor find out how well your heart handles effort or workload. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more fuel and your heart has to pump more blood. The test can show if there’s a lack of blood supply

through the arteries that go to the heart. Taking a stress test also helps your doctor know the kind and level of physical activity that’s right for you.

Why the Test is Performed

Doctors use exercise stress tests to find out:

  • If you have an irregular heartbeat.
  • If your symptoms (such as chest pain or difficulty breathing) are related to your heart.
  • How hard you should exercise when you are joining a cardiac rehabilitation program or starting an exercise program.
  • If treatments you have received for heart disease are working.
  • If you need other tests (such as a coronary angiogram) to detect narrowed arteries.

How to Prepare for the Test

  • Tell your doctor about any medicines (including over-the-counter, herbs and vitamins) you take. He or she may ask you not to take them before the test. Don’t stop taking them unless the doctor says to.
  • You may be asked not to eat, drink or smoke for two to four hours before the test. You may drink water.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and walking shoes with rubber soles. Shorts or sweatpants and jogging or tennis shoes are good choices.

What to Expect During the Test

  • During the test, the technician will monitor your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG), and how tired you feel.
  • Wires, or electrodes, will be hooked up to your chest and arms or shoulders. The wires will be connected to the ECG machine.
  • You will walk slowly in place on the treadmill. The treadmill will tilt so you feel like you’re going up a small hill. The treadmill will change speeds to make you walk faster.
  • You may be asked to breathe into a tube for a couple of minutes.
  • You can stop the test at any time if you need to.
  • After slowing down for a few minutes, you will sit or lie down and your heart and blood pressure will be checked.

Potential Risks of the Test

There’s very little risk — no more than if you walked fast or jogged up a big hill. Medical professionals are on hand in case anything unusual happens during the test.

This test will be conducted the same as the Exercise Treadmill Test, but in addition to the ECG and other monitoring, the doctor will take images of your heart after it has been stressed.